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DeSantis: 'Patients' bill of rights' could develop to allow hospital visitation

The governor said denying or restricting visitation in hospitals brought on by the pandemic has had "huge negative consequences."

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday hinted at the potential for a "patients' bill of rights" to ensure hospital visitations are allowed during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

During a news conference, a reporter asked DeSantis whether he knew of possible legislation in Florida that would prevent people from being blocked from visiting loved ones in hospitals. 

"So there's a couple pieces in the legislature. We obviously have some of our ideas, so what I think you'll see over the next couple weeks is, I think you'll see a package develop that's gonna have protections," DeSantis said.

"You have people who are in the hospital that didn't have access to their loved ones. You literally have to have them on Zoom or on FaceTime or something like that. That had huge negative consequences for so many families throughout our country. So I've been talking for a long time about needing to do that," he continued. 

What exactly the legislation could or will look like isn't clear, as the governor said a proposed package hasn't come together just yet. 

In January, AdventHealth began restricting hospital patients to one visitor per day in the Tampa Bay region. This decision came during a rise in hospitalizations among people who had COVID. 

Many hospitals in Florida, including the Tampa Bay area, and across the United States have restricted visitors throughout the pandemic to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These decisions to restrict visitation have been backed by studies and industry groups that indicate such policies have been crucial to keeping hospital-acquired infections low.

Still, such denial has taken its toll on both patients and families. Some doctors and people have been arguing that these policies deny people the right to be with loved ones at a crucial time. 

"Our view is COVID cannot be used as an excuse to deny patients' basic rights, and one of the rights, I think, of being a patient is that you have your loved ones present when you're dealing with these serious medical conditions," DeSantis said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: AdventHealth restricts hospital patients to 1 visitor per day in the Tampa Bay region

RELATED: COVID-19 hospital visitor rules: Families want more access


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